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South Carolina’s Spurrier Says Clowney’s Work Ethic Was “OK”

gfx-they-said-it4In an interview this morning, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier gave former defensive end Jadeveon Clowney plenty of credit for his talent.  As for his work ethic?  Well, not so much:


“Even though his production this year wasn’t near what it was last year, he had two or three guys waiting on him just about every play.  His run defense was very good, though, and he chased down a bunch of guys and made tackles.  His sacks — he had to run around two or three guys just about every game.  I don’t think teams will quite do that in the NFL, but we’ll have to wait and see…

(His work ethic) was OK.  It wasn’t like Marcus Lattimore, you know, every player is a little difference.  His work habits are pretty good, they’re not quite like Lattimore, maybe Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, some of those guys, but when the ball is snapped he’s got something no one else has.”


Clowney has the talent to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL (where he most certainly will not see anything close to a triple-team).  However, you can bet any GM thinking about using a top three pick on him will consider long and hard the work ethic questions that have dogged Clowney for the past year.  If his work ethic was just “OK” in college, what will it be once he signs his first contract and cashes his first big-money check?  There will more than one NFL executive who’ll worry that Clowney might check out just as soon as he cashes in.

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Top 5 SEC Freshman Linebackers

SEC speed.

That’s brought up often and it can usually be traced to the linebacker position.

There’s speed all over the field in the SEC, but it stands out at linebacker when you include the size that comes with it. The 2012 signing class should help carry on that tradition.

Here are the top five true freshman linebackers in the SEC.

1. Otha Peters – Arkansas

The Arkansas coaching staff began its praise of Peters early in fall camp. Peters, who originally committed to Tennessee, could be the most underrated 2012 signee in the SEC. He went without a scholarship offer from in-state LSU. Expect big things from Peters (6-1, 228), who should see significant playing time immediately. His career in Fayetteville will only get better.

2. Kwon Alexander – LSU

There’s a reason Alabama and Auburn never slowed their pursuit of Alexander even after he tore his ACL in 2011. He’s adjusted quickly during practice this fall and should contribute early to LSU’s talented defense. Alexander (6-2, 215) needs to add weight but has the kind of athleticism coach John Chavis requires to play linebacker in his defense. Alexander should excel under Chavis’ guidance.

3. Antonio Morrison – Florida

The Gators don’t typically have to travel to Big Ten country to find their top defenders, but Florida did that when it signed Morrison out of Illinois. Smart move. Morrison (6-1, 218) has already shown he will make a big impact in Gainesville. Florida has an experienced group of linebackers, but Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins won’t be around forever. Morrison should be a good replacement.

4. Richie Brown -Mississippi State

Bulldog fans should be excited about the future at linebacker. Brown and fellow freshman Beniquez Brown (no relation) have both impressed at linebacker this fall. Richie Brown (6-2, 225) is a great athlete – he played multiple positions on offense in high school. That experience should pay off when he’s pursuing opposing players in the SEC.

5. Kaiwan Lewis – South Carolina

Lewis (6-0, 225) looks like he’s ready to play in the SEC now. He’s a good athlete who has the size to be a physical player at the inside linebacker position. South Carolina has continued to recruit elite talent on defense. See guys like Jadeveon Clowney, Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram. Don’t be surprised if Lewis is mentioned with their names in a few years.

Be sure to keep up with recruiting from across the SEC on’s Recruiting Page.

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Carolina’s Secondary Has Improved, But The Schedule’s Helped

South Carolina’s pass defense is the second-best in the SEC to Alabama.  It’s third-best in the nation behind Michigan State and the Tide.

Not too shabby, eh?

On the season, the Cocks have allowed just 1087 yards through the air and 508 of those came in Carolina’s first two games against East Carolina and Georgia. 

So what changed from those first two games to the last six?

“There are not as many checks and audibles,” safety DaVonte Holloman told The Charleston Post & Courier.  “We’re not making as many pre-snap calls.”

Steve Spurrier said that “there are fewer mistakes” as well.  “I think that’s a big part of it, and just the guys playing hard, playing their assignments, playing with effort.”

Fewer pre-snap calls.  Fewer mistakes.  Better play.

Yes, yes and yes.

But there’s also this factor — take a look at who Carolina has played:

Passing Offense National Rank
Yds Vs Carolina
East Carolina
Miss. State

There’s been a pretty steep drop-off in the passing ability of Carolina’s opponents over the past few weeks.  And don’t forget, the Tennessee of that high national ranking is quite different than the Tennessee USC faced on Saturday night… the one with the true freshman quarterback making his first start.

This doesn’t mean that Carolina’s secondary hasn’t improved and hasn’t played well in recent weeks.  But it does mean anyone expecting the Gamecocks to squelch Arkansas’ passing game on Saturday will likely come away disappointed. 

The Razorbacks — for comparison’s sake — rank 9th nationally in passing offense.  And unless Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and the Carolina pass rushers can mount some serious pressure, Tyler Wilson will likely put up some passing numbers reminiscent of those posted by ECU and Georgia earlier this season.

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Worley To Start For UT Against USC

Derek Dooley has apparently figured out what to do with true freshman quarterback Justin Worley.  Two days after burning his redshirt in the final minutes of a lopsided loss to Alabama, UT’s coach has named Worley as the Vols’ starter heading into Saturday’s game with South Carolina.

“We’re not throwing and catching the way we need to and we’re not calling the game the way we want to.  We just need to make this move.

It’s not something that’s done on a whim.  We have a lot of data to make a switch.  We don’t have a lot of data on Justin…

I don’t know what it’s going to look like on Saturday.”

In other words, Dooley has seen enough to know that — in his opinion — anybody is better that Matt Simms.  Simms was forced to face the defenses of LSU and Alabama when starter Tyler Bray broke his thumb against Georgia earlier this month.

Though Worley got into Tennessee’s game with Alabama, he did not attempt a pass.  So the first pass he’ll throw at the college level will come with Jadeveon Clowney and Melvin Ingram breathing down his neck.

As a team, South Carolina has 14 sacks on the season.  Ingram has 5.5 and Clowney has 4.0.  Thanks in part to that pass rush, the Gamecocks are allowing just 133.7 yards per game through the air… the best mark in the SEC.  Better than Alabama.  Better than LSU.

That’s not an ideal situation for a young QB, but it’s the one Worley will face.  Ironically, the true freshman from Rock Hill, South Carolina was not offered a scholarship by Steve Spurrier and his homestate Gamecocks.  So maybe he’ll have some added motivation on Saturday night that will help counterbalance his inexperience.

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Carolina’s Star Pass-Rushing Duo Injured At Practice

South Carolina’s pass-rushing duo of Melvin Ingram (9 sacks last year) and Jadeveon Clowney (the top signee in the nation) were both felled by injuries during practice yesterday.  Luckily for the Cocks, it sounds as if those injuries are relatively minor.  Both defensive ends left the field without assistance.

Ingram suffered a left thigh contusion, according to The Charleston Post & Courier.  Clowney sprained his left ankle.  Steve Spurrier talked about Clowney’s injury first:

“The doc doesn’t think it’s too bad.  He went in and put a little ice on it.  So two of our D-linemen had a minor nagging little thing.  Hopefully, if it had to happen, it happened 10 or 11 days before the game, so they should be OK.  Definitely both of them will be out a couple of days.  Hopefully they’ll get well by next week.”

South Carolina opens against East Carolina next Saturday in Charlotte.  The following week, they travel to Georgia for a matchup of the two East Division favorites.

With injuries and suspensions already taking a toll in the Gamecocks’ secondary, USC can’t afford to lose either of their star pass-rushers for any extended length of time.

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SEC Headlines – 8/22/11 Part One

1.  Expect a run-first offense from Charlie Weis and Florida this fall.

2.  Former Florida defensive end and linebacker Chris Martin has transferred to Navarro College in Colorado.

3.  Alec Ogletree is adjusting well to his move from Georgia’s secondary to its linebacking corps.

4.  This veteran UGA writer says it’s hard to figure out what to expect from this year’s Dawgs.

5.  His teammates call fifth-year Kentucky linebacker and team leader “the old man.”

6.  There’s a crowded battle for playing time at the tight end position.

7.  UK’s Darius Miller scored just three points as Team USA wrapped up a disappointing fifth-place finish in the World University Games.

8.  South Carolina AD Eric Hyman has already popped up in talk about Tennessee’s current athletic director search… and now he’s being connected to UNC’s vacancy as well.

9.  All eyes may be trained on Jadeveon Clowney, but fellow defensive end Melvin Ingram continues to impress.

10.  Asked about his team’s #12 preseason ranking, Steve Spurrier said, “I tried to tell our guys we’re probably an overrated bunch of dudes right now.”

11.  The Ol’ Ball Coach is ready to use a trio of slot receivers in 2011.

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